Indian cricket: A 5-0 whipping for NZ, South Africa beckons


Gautam Gambhir at Adelaide Oval

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Another ODI series ends. India run away 5-0 victors, handing the Black Caps yet another whitewash on their sub-continent sojourn.

Vettori’s team began the tour well. Chris Martin gave India a scare in the first Test. The second Test witnessed another exhibition of their fighting qualities.

The third Test at Nagpur, however, was their Waterloo.

India rested key players Sehwag, Dhoni, Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh for the one-dayers.

But if the Kiwis felt that the dice would roll their way, they were to be sorely disappointed.

The young ‘uns kept firing. Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir ‘s tons  in the first three outings put paid to Kiwi hopes.

Gambhir led his young side from the front scoring heavily in the second and third one-dayers. Gambhir and Kohli topped the batting averages aggregating 329 and 234 respectively.

The limitations of the bits-and-pieces bowlers that Kiwis field in the shorter version of the game were cruelly exposed on flat, batsman-friendly pitches.

James Franklin stood tall amidst the ruins. He single-handedly ensured that the Kiwis harboured hopes of pulling one back in the fourth tie at Bangalore.

Monster hitter Yusuf Pathan would not let an opportunity go a-begging and retaliated with a whirlwind ton that knocked the wind out of their sails.

The Black Caps were deflated and succumbed meekly in the final ODI at Chennai. They were bundled out for a paltry 103. The Indians rubbed it in by knocking over the runs in 20 odd overs despite suffering initial setbacks to be 2 for 10.

For the home side, it is a problem of plenty for the selectors.R Ashwin has matured well and can be a handful in helpful conditions. He topped the bowling averages snaring 11-241 at an economy rate of 5.12.

Yuvraj Singh demonstrated his  willingness  to shoulder the responsibility of bowling his entire quota of 10 overs. He chipped in with 5-117. His batting form remains iffy but the selectors might plumb for experience over youth.

Kohli continues to impress, Suresh Raina is another flat-track bully and Yusuf Pathan will massacre anything that is the vicinity of his club on Indian pitches.

India have not yet discovered a pace-bowling all-rounder. They will not need one for the World Cup though.

The tour of South Africa begins on the 16th of December, 2010 without a single warm-up match.

Kirsten’s mantra of “3000 hits in the nets” — an equivalent of 500 overs— is India’s wing on a prayer  to tackle the Final Frontier. India have won just one Test in their last four tours to South Africa.

Dravid has warned the South Africans against preparing green-top pitches. Extraordinarily, the curator at the Centurion has heeded the warning and prepared a non-grassy pitch. Commercial considerations take precedence over the national team’s interests although the groundsman was quoted otherwise. The spectators would not like to see a Test end in three days.

“If we win the toss on that pitch and bowl them out cheaply, then I’m the hero, but think what could happen if the roles are reversed and they bowl us out cheaply. Then they demand your head and everyone wants to know what went wrong," said Hilbert Smith.

India will expect Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma to be the pace machines.

The batting line-up consists of Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman with Suresh Raina at No. 6. Dhoni as captain and wicket-keeper brings up the rear. Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara have tasted success and should be up to the task if thrown in at the deep end.

Can Dhoni’s men conquer the Final Frontier? The time for planning is past. It’s time to execute the dream.

Quote of the day:
Thus the metric system did not really catch on in the States, unless you count the increasing popularity of the nine-millimeter bullet. – Dave Barry

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